Middle Schoolers Online – MBFLP 209

Should your middle schooler be online?
When’s the right time to get your middle schoolers online? Researcher Jean Twenge (iGen) says that people born since 1995–that’s the class just starting to graduate from college, and their younger siblings–have basically grown up with round-the-clock Internet access. It’s not healthy, and it’s causing some specific, traceable problems … and yet, the world our kids are graduating into demands computer literacy … and expects to find a current social media footprint. How can we both protect our younger kids and prepare them for the real world just a few years ahead? This episode, we’ll start the conversation on middle schoolers and the online world …

 

Should your middle schooler be online?

Some Announcements … We are still celebrating the release of our new book, No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope … and we are getting some fantastic first-reader reviews! CLICK HERE to see a sample … or to order your own copy.  Background information: This week’s episode is in response to several of those reviews!

We’re scheduling upcoming events … We’ve recently finished agreements for events in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Florida … and we have plans to be in Maryland for a private event, soon, too. CLICK HERE to see our newest plans … and if you’d like to have us speak at your church, retreat, conference, or other event, VISIT OUR SPEAKING EVENT WEBSITE HERE.

Big HELLO to our new listeners on iHeartRadio! Be sure to come here to check out the show notes and links we mention on the air …


So what about middle schoolers and time online?

Dr. Twenge says that studies indicate the average high school senior now spends six hours per day online – including two and a quarter hours in text messaging, alone. Where is this time coming from? She shows that it comes from less time in homework, less time in extracurricular activities, less time working after-school jobs, and much less time just hanging out with friends “in real life.” This is undermining their social and emotional developments in many ways that explain the alarm and hysteria coming from college campuses these days!

There is also some correlation with the rise in teenage mental illness, including self-harming behaviors, and obsessive use of social media.

So it should be obvious that we don’t want to drop our pre-teens into that mix when they are in their most uprooted, emotional, hormonal, and generally unstable time of life. It wouldn’t be wise, it wouldn’t be prudent, and it simply wouldn’t be kind.

Instead, let’s hold off on social media for young people until they’re back on an even emotional keel – maybe 15 or 16. At that point, we recommend starting them off with lots of supervision and advice. Why? Because like it or not, social media has replaced the front porch and casual relationships in church, neighborhood, and community for establishing a basic public reputation. It’s expected. That means we need to coach our young people in appropriate online behavior, just like our parents or grandparents coached us–what’s appropriate and how we should act where the neighbors can hear or the community can see.

What about other uses of the net?

We need to recognize that the old “electronic babysitter,” the television of our youth, has been supplemented or replaced by Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and the rest. Screen time is still screen time, with all its differences and similarities. Is there a place for simple entertainment use? Yes, and sometimes you need that “babysitter” – to calm an anxious child quiet in the doctor’s waiting room, or maybe to keep fidgety kids in their seats on long car trips. But let’s be honest about it and recognize it for what it is–don’t just drift into habits we’ll regret.

Meanwhile, think about boundaries and limitations you need to establish, and put them in place early. You’ll get a lot less pushback and complaining if your pre-teens have grown up knowing these boundaries, like accountability software, supervision, and time limits. They’re good guardrails to have, no matter what age you start–just realize it’s easier the earlier you get them in place.

Want to know more about middle schoolers and wisdom in technology use? Check out chapter 7, “Media, Gaming, and Discernment,” in our new book, No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope.

Middle School Q & A – MBFLP 208

Real life Q and A from parents like you with middle schoolers

Nobody told us what to expect … babies and toddlers we read about, and people warned us in hushed tones about the dreadful teen years, but nobody told us, “Just wait till they’re in middle school!” This week on Facebook Live we took questions from parents of pre-teens, asking them “What are you having struggles with?” That’s the meat of this week’s podcast – real live Q&A about dealing with the challenges of tweens!

Real life Q and A from parents like you with middle schoolers

Whether you call them pre-teens, tweens, middle-schoolers, or something else, your child will go through a transitional period between “clearly a little kid” to “definitely a teenager.” That catches most of us by surprise. Why is that? Probably because we’re anticipating the physical changes – his voice cracks, she starts her cycle, he’s got a proud new whisker, she is starting to get a figure. Before those outward changes appear, there’s a tidal wave of hormones that start the body’s transformation, and those hormones cause all sorts of effects in their thinking, their emotions, and even their spiritual lives.

What’s more important, our families stumble into a relationship minefield at this point. If we don’t recognize what’s happening and handle it right, we can end up with strained, bent, or broken relationships with our pre-teens.

But it’s also an opportunity. If we can come alongside our sons and daughters during this time and give them understanding, guidance, and encouragement – as well as discipleship and discipline when needed – we can lay foundations for a great relationship during the exciting years ahead!

Questions we addressed … 

7:21 – They’re so addleheaded in school
11:21 – Highly emotional but lacking in perspective
13:03 – They make wild assertions with no basis in reality
14:16 – The personal challenge of discipleship
14:56 – How to manage a changing school situation
17:37 – What about transitioning to adulthood – even with special needs
20:32 – Suddenly, there’s social anxiety
23:36 – He’s struggling in school and hates it
26:35 – A normally friendly boy growing quiet and withdrawn
28:01 – Tips for overcoming shyness

Resources we recommended …

Our new book, No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope

Read reviews here

Dianne Craft’s Brain Integration Therapy Manual

Our growing selection of classic, character-building audiobooks

MBFLP – Dealing with Conflict with Tweens and Teens

MBFLP Dealing with Conflict in Teens and Tweens

 

How much anger is “normal” for a pre-teen (or a teen)-aged boy? Is there anything to be done about it, or is the best we can do just to hang on and hope they grow out of it? Actually, with our six sons, we’ve seen our share of hormonally-driven outbursts and rage, and we’ve found out that there are Biblically-sound ways to respond to these challenging days, and even turn them into times for discipleship. Tune in for a half hour that may make a difference in your family for years to come!

 

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES

Shepherding A Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp [available from Shepherd Press]

The Heart of Anger  by Lou Priolo [available from Grace and Truth Books]

“Boot Camp 9-12” webinar series with Hal and Melanie Young [order from Raising Real Men . com]